Money, Cheating or Something Else? Survey Shows Why People Get Divorced

Broken heartCiting the grounds of “irreconcilable differences” in divorce papers is often viewed as the easiest and most direct way in New Jersey to legally establish that a marriage is irretrievably broken down. But what exactly leads to the irretrievable marital break down in the first place? In a recent report, researchers from Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture reveal what they found when they tried to answer the question, why do people get divorced?

Using new data from the Relationships in America survey, which included nearly 4,000 ever-divorced adults ages 18-60, the findings are surprising, especially given the focus in recent years on the role money plays in marital discord. Are couples most likely to cite financial conflict as the main reason they’re splitting up? No, according to the survey. Among the findings, the seven most commonly cited reasons for wanting a divorce were:

  1. Infidelity by either party: 37%
  2. Spouse unresponsive to your needs: 32%
  3. Grew tired of making a poor match work: 30%
  4. Spouse’s immaturity: 30%
  5. Emotional Abuse: 29%
  6. Financial Priorities/Spending Patterns: 24%
  7. Alcohol and Drug Abuse: 23%

There was a further split in these answers along gender lines. Women were far more likely to cite emotional abuse (37% of women vs. 13% of male respondents), physical abuse (21% vs. 8%), their spouse’s pornography usage (7% vs. 1%), and alcohol or drug problems (29% vs. 14%).  Men are slightly more likely than women to cite marrying too young (24 vs. 18%).

Overall, some popular claims about causes of divorce were cited far fewer times than anticipated, including “married too young” (20%), the desire to pursue a different life (16%), conflict with in-laws (15%), pornography use (5% overall), and persistent religious or cultural differences (5%).

The survey also showed that sometimes there’s not just one issue leading to “irretrievable breakdown,” especially for spouse who really want out of a marriage. According to survey results, approximately 66 percent of divorcees who wanted the divorce as much as or more than their spouse listed more than one reason for the divorce, while one in four offered 5 or more reasons.

What does all this mean for you? In a day and age when most people cite irreconcilable differences in New Jersey and other states where this “no fault” ground is available, it can help to see the issues going on beneath the surface. For more on irreconcilable differences and whether citing this ground is right for your divorce, please read, Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey.